A2 English Language - Child Language Acquisition


Key Terms

Phoneme: the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language.

Phonetics: the study of the sounds used in speech, including how they are produced.

Lexis: the vocabulary of a language.

Semantics: the study of meaning.

Syntax: the way words are arranged to make a sentence.

Morphology: the area of language study that deals with the formation of words from smaller units called morphemes.

Phonology: the study of the sound systems of language and how they communicate meaning.

Discourse: a stretch of communication.

Pragmatics: the factors that influence the choices that speakers make in their use of language - why we choose to say one thing rather than another. 

Developing Speech

What children have to learn:

  • To create individual phonemes and phonemic combinations (phonetics).
  • To use a vocabulary of words and understand their meanings (lexis/semantics).
  • To combine words in a variety of sentence constructions, changing word formations to express different word classes (syntax/morphology).
  • To use prosodic features such as pitch, loudness, speed and intonation to convey meaning (phonology).
  • To structure interactions with others (discourse).
  • The subtleties of speech such as politeness, implication and irony (pragmatics)

Main stages of Language Development

The pre-verbal stage

Vegetative stage: occurs at 0-4 months. Features sound of discomfort or reflexive actions.

Cooing stage: occurs at 4-7 months. Features comfort sounds…